Value for money isn’t the only value on shoppers’ minds. Consumers are increasingly seeking out brands that align with their personal values. So how can you make that your competitive advantage? Ashling Withers explains.


The world is a tough place today. With increasing geo-political instability, cost of living stress and growing anxiety, it makes sense consumers are orienting towards organisations and brands that ensure value for money.

But value for money isn’t the only driver. As we saw through COVID, in a world of instability and uncertainty, consumers look for something more – whether that’s increased awareness of sustainability, increased support of local communities or increased value in essential services.

In today’s uncertain world, consumers are also looking for retailers and brands that align with their values and demonstrate how they are living them.

Plenty of organisations have invested in values – with varying levels of success.

Take Woolworths. The brand has long prided itself on caring for staff, customers and the community. Likewise, Coles espouses values of courage and care. Just six months ago, they were both considered some of the most trusted Australian brands. But today? After allegations of price gouging, profiteering and abusing their market dominance, they have lost ground. Woolworths has fallen to second place with Coles slipping from third to fifth in the Roy Morgan 2023 Risk Monitor report.

On the other hand, brands such as Kennards Hire have hardwired their values of customer dedication and commitment. Beyond encouraging outstanding service, their values act as a filter for everything they do, from senior leaders to frontline employees.

While over at beauty brand Mecca, founder Jo Horgan says, “At Mecca, we aim to empower women to look and feel their best, and we cannot do that if we don’t empower our own people to be the best they can be.” Perhaps that’s why the brand has been recognised by KPMG as the third-best in the country for customer experience.


So can a considered and concerted effort to embed and live your values actually deliver value to you, your people, your customers and your bottom line?


Making good decisions

Values are a key instrument in guiding decision-making for everyone within your organisation. Setting a clear approach for ‘how we work around here’ is an easy guardrail for your teams to assess their actions and behaviours.

We are living in a fast-moving and challenging environment, so the ability to be confident in decision-making is vital. From dealing with difficult customers to having hard conversations; your values can support how you consistently manage and make decisions to deliver the best outcomes.


Not just ethical sense, but good business sense

The statistics speak for themselves. Research from the Australian Retailers Association in collaboration with the Queensland University of Technology tells us that consumers are willing to pay more to buy products/services from retailers whose values align with theirs, with 24 per cent willing to pay more than 5 per cent and 13 per cent willing to pay a premium of more than 10 per cent.

From an employee standpoint, strong values and company culture can reduce the cost to hire by half and reduce recruitment fees by almost a quarter.


Build positive experiences (for all)

According to Salesforce’s Chief Growth Evangelist Tiffani Bova, “The fastest way to get companies to love your brand is to get employees to love their jobs.”

Research shows employees who are aligned and believe in their company’s values are more likely to recommend their employer as a great place to work (70 per cent versus 25 per cent) and say their work gives them a sense of personal accomplishment (72 per cent versus 29 per cent).

Ensuring your values are truly lived ensures happy employees – and we all know happy employees help to create happy customers.

How can you get the most value from your values?

Creating values is one thing, but how can you ensure they are understood, lived and breathed every day?

Set the expectation

Values are almost always embedded throughout job adverts and career sites, but are you truly reflecting them through the candidate experience?

Building values into your questionnaires, interviews and through your hiring manager training sets a clear expectation for employees. Atlassian uses values as a key screening questionnaire to ensure the expectation is clear, a good approach for the prospective employee to see early on if their values align. It’s good for the business too. It sets the expectation from the very beginning.

From the top down

How well do your leaders understand the values of your organisation? Do they know what is asked of them? By defining essential leadership behaviours and providing your leaders and people managers with the tools to activate them, you are arming the most influential people to set the standard.

Measure, measure and measure again

As the overused saying goes, we can only improve what we can measure. From the beginning of any values project, define what success means to your business, and how you can measure it.

Measurement doesn’t need to be a burden. Make it a quick and simple way to test understanding and action. It will enable you to see where your values are working, and, more importantly, where they aren’t.

When values are made a focus and a commitment, and integrated through the people and customer experience, value will be seen. Yes, even on the bottom line.

This article first appeared in Inside Retail.

Ashling Withers is a Senior Consultant – Employer Brand at Principals.

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